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'School districts and public agencies throughout Oregon are reporting record retirements for the coming fiscal year. The common explanation is that public employees are choosing to leave their jobs early rather than allow the Legislature to take away promised retirement benefits.

'There is some truth to the notion that changes to the Public Employees Retirement System are motivating the exodus. But other factors are at work as well.

'É (B)eneath the wave of retirements is a swelling demographic tide Ñ the aging of the baby boomers. Regardless of what happens with PERS or the stock market, public and private employers can expect to lose a large portion of workers over the next 10 years.

'Governments are being hit first because public employees often are able to retire at an earlier age than their private-sector counterparts. People who were smart enough to start their careers in their 20s are able to retire under PERS in their early to mid-50s. The point of PERS reform is not to punish those workers who are about to leave the system, but to ensure that retirement benefits are sustainable for younger employees.'

Ñ From an editorial published May 29 in the Tualatin Times